Visual motion processing in the anterior ectosylvian sulcus of the cat

Jack W. Scannell*, Frank Sengpiel, Martin J. Tovée, Philip J. Benson, Colin Blakemore, Malcolm P. Young

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Citations (Scopus)


1. Neurons that are selectively sensitive to the direction of motion of elongated contours have been found in several cortical areas in many species. However, in the striate cortex of the cat and monkey, and the extrastriate posteromedial lateral suprasylvian visual area of the cat, such cells are generally component motion selective, signaling only the direction of movement orthogonal to the preferred orientation; a direction that is not necessarily the same as the motion of the entire pattern or texture of which the cell's preferred contour is part. The primate extrastriate middle temporal area is the only cortical region currently known to contain a substantial population of pattern-motion-selective cells that respond to the shared vector of motion of mixtures of contours. 2. From analyzing published data on the connectivity of the cat's cortex, we predicted that the anterior ectosylvian visual area (AEV), situated within the anterior ectosylvian sulcus, might be a higher-order motion processing area and thus likely to contain pattern-motion-selective neurons. This paper presents the results of a study on neuronal responses in AEV. 3. Ninety percent of AEV cells that responded strongly to drifting grating and/or plaid stimuli were directionally selective (directionality index >0.5). For this group, the mean directionality index was 0.75. Moreover, 55% of these cells were unevequivocally classified as pattern motion selective and only one neuron was classified as definitely component motion selective. Thus high-level pattern motion coding occurs in the cat extrastriate cortex and is not limited to the primate middle temporal area. 4. AEV contains a heterogeneous population of directionally selective cells. There was no clear relation between the degree of directional selectivity for plaids or gratings and the degree of selectivity for pattern motion or component motion. Nevertheless, 28% of the highly responsive cells were both more strongly modulated by plaids than gratings and more pattern motion selective than component motion selective. Such cells could correspond to a population of 'selection units' signaling the salience of local motion information. 5. AEV lacks global retinotopic order but the preferred direction of motion of neurons (rather than axis of motion, as in the middle temporal area and the posteromedial lateral suprasylvian visual area) is mapped systematically across the cortex. Our data are compatible with AEV being a nonretinotopic, feature-mapped area in which cells representing similar parts of 'motion space' are brought together on the cortical sheet.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)895-907
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1996
Externally publishedYes


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